Writers Victoria has announced the shortlist for the 2024 Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship, and I’m beyond delighted to have made the cut; ‘for a biography of Louisa Lawson, newspaper proprietor, poet, suffragist and mother of Henry Lawson.’ What a strong list and what an honour to be included in it.

Although those of you who’ve been playing along at home will know that I’ve been shortlisted for the Hazel Rowley Literary Fellowship twice before. Here’s hoping that this third time will be the charm!

The Literary Fellowship, valued at $20,000, supports Australian writers working on biography projects. The annual Fellowship commemorates the work of Hazel Rowley (1951–2011 – see photo right), and the winner will be announced on Wednesday 13 March 2024 at The Wheeler Centre, following the Hazel Rowley Memorial Lecture.

And in even better news; the Louisa Lawson biography in question has also been acquired by Jane Pearson at Text Publishing, following negotiations with my excellent literary agent Jacinta di Mase.

Here’s what Jane had to say: “Michelle has chosen a great subject in Louisa Lawson, and I know she has what it takes to write a brilliant biography. Her outline of LL’s life and her vision for the book are very compelling. It’s high time for a new book telling Louisa’s story for a new generation of readers. I loved working with Michelle on Elizabeth Macarthur: A Life at the Edge of the World. Michelle’s energy, her hard-working, no-nonsense style as well as her flair for telling a good story make her a dream author, and a great person to spend time with.”

Yes, ok, I’m definitely blushing now!

Text Publishing is definitely the right home for this new biography of Louisa Lawson. The wohole team are incredibly supportive. And I’m so pleased to be working with Jane Pearson again, I just adore her! She’s smart, thoughtful, intellectually rigorous and truly an absolute gem.

In order to research and complete the manuscript, I’ve also had the honour of being appointed a 2024 Visiting Scholar at the State Library of NSW, to work on the Lawson biography. The library’s Visiting Scholar program is a competitive and prestigious initiative supporting and fostering writing, research and study and I hope to visit Sydney at least a half a dozen times during 2024, to make the most of the library’s resources and assistance.